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September 11, 2011

How Were the Hierarchical Vestments of St. Chrysostomos of Smyrna Saved?

The Greek Historical and Ethnological Museum, the result of private initiative, is in the Old Parliament Building of Athens on Old Stadiou Street, and is devoted to the history of Greece in the 18th - 20th centuries. The collection also contains historical items concerning the period from the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453 to the Second World War, focusing especially in the period of the Greek Revolution (1821) and the subsequent establishment of the modern Greek state. Among the items displayed are weapons, personal belongings and memorabilia from historical personalities, historical paintings by Greek and foreign artists, manuscripts, as well as a large collection of traditional costumes from the various regions of Greece. The collection is displayed in the corridors and rooms of the building, while the great central hall of the National Assembly is used for conferences. Among the treasured relics of the Greek Revolution are the relics of Lord Byron's helmet and sword.

One of the sections of the museum is dedicated to the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922. Among the treasuries here are the episcopal mitre, the episcopal engolpion, and the cross of Hieromartyr Chrysostomos of Smyrna, who died violently to help his beloved flock. The enthusiasm of the visitor when he sees these relics makes them also question how such treasures came into the possession of the museum, since we know the body of Metropolitan Chrysostomos was burned together with the city. This question was solved by St. Chrysostomos' nephew, Metropolitan Chrysostomos Tsiter of Austria (+ 1995), the son of St. Chrysostomos' sister Erifylis Yrakleos Tsiter. He did this in his three-volume work titled "The Archive of the Ethnomartyr of Smyrna, Chrysostomos".

Metropolitan Chrysostomos Tsiter writes that during the tragic days of the catastrophe of Smyrna in August and September of 1922, near St. Chrysostomos was Thomas Voultsos of Drama, his trusted personal servant Nicholas Sophocleous, the husband of his sister Sophia, and his brother Evgenios. Of these, Thomas Voultsos and Nicholas Sophocleous survived the catastrophe and went to Greece. His brother Evgenios stayed in the Metropolis, was arrested, and sentenced to death and buried. When Thomas Voultsos was in Athens he contacted Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Ephesus to learn the fate of his spiritual father St. Chrysostomos. The Metropolitan informed Thomas that two boxes of hierarchical belongings of St. Chrysostomos were put aboard the battleship Lemnos for safekeeping. The Metropolitan of Ephesus wrote a letter to the commander of the battleship Lemnos to give these boxes to Nicholas Sophocleous. He found in the boxes hierarchical vestments and hand-written letters of St. Chrysostomos. These were distributed to various family members of St. Chrysostomos.

The family of St. Chrysostomos held him in high esteem with great respect and were convinced by the then Deacon Chrysostomos Tsiter (later Metropolitan of Austria), nephew of St. Chrysostomos, to deposit the relics of St. Chrysostomos in the Ethnological Museum in Athens for all to remember the sacrifice of the Etnomartyr. The hierarchical vestments were given to the Ethnological Museum on 30 April 1927 by his family.

Read also:

Πως διεσώθησαν τα άμφια του εθνομάρτυρος αγ. Χρυσοστόμου Σμύρνης

Saint Chrysostomos of Smyrna: An Ecclesiastical and National Martyr